Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving and Tourism

Thanksgiving passed by with very little recognition from anyone but me in Moldova. It was pretty hard because for me my biggest issue has been dealing with the difference in food and Thanksgiving is the pentacle of Americans overindulging in every quintessential American food, food that I don't have. So every time I had to explain to someone what Thanksgiving was and had to try and explain what a sweet potato was I was basically drooling all over my explanation. However, as luck would have it I didn't actually have to go without my Thanksgiving dinner after all. Instead I had to wait until Saturday and travel to Chisinau in order to join up with the other volunteers and eat the best tasting American food I have had in Moldova. Turkey, pumpkin pie, corn, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and even pumpkin soup, which isn't something I had ever had in America but it was a welcome addition to my Thanksgiving meal. The quality of the food was made all the more comforting with the overabundance of Americans and English conversations everywhere. By the end of the meal I was already marking my calendar for the next pseudo-Thanksgiving and rallying other volunteers to create a new holiday feast to signify the halfway point to Thanksgiving.

Because we ate sort of at an awkward time it was impossible for me to go home by train so I was forced to finally spend the night in Chisinau at the hostel. Because I am a Peace Corps volunteer I get a discount and the hostel only costs me about 9 dollars a night. I was pretty lucky because some other volunteers needed to spend the night as well so I didnt have to go alone. To make it even better the volunteers I went with are also some of the volunteers that I am planning to go to Istanbul with. Seeing as how we plan to stay at a hostel when we get there this was great practice for us. As for this particular hostel it was mostly quiet and there were a few other people all speaking different languages, German, Russian, English. It reawakened my since of being in a foreign country and started to make me feel like a tourist again to be around others who were tourist. I felt even more like a tourist the next day when we visited the mall, which just so happens to be right next to the Hostel. The mall is called Malldova, which is probably the best name for a mall anywhere in the world, and was very comparable to other malls I had been to in America. It had four floors, name brand stores like Adidas and Guess, as well as off brand knockoff stores, and most importantly it had a food court. I ended up eating a pizza at Sbarro, a waffle bowl of chocolate and hazelnut gelato and finally some McDonalds coffee in all its watered down glory. There were a couple other restaurants serving German, Mexican and Japanese cuisine but the most surprising was the Kentucky Fried Chicken. I wasnt really in the mood for chicken but not buying something from the KFC only means I will be certain to make a return trip to the Mall sometime in the near future.

Other interesting things from our things from our mall trip was finding a store selling electronics and being shocked by how expensive everything was. For instance in America right now a PS3 is about 250 dollars (unless you bought it on Black Friday for 200) in Moldova a PS3 is 8,000 lei, or about 650 dollars.

All good things most come to an end and because I was having such a good time in Chisinau I almost missed my train and ended up spending about half of the 4 hour train ride standing waiting for a seat to open up so that I could fight with the other people that were also standing for a chance to finally sit down.

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